Lookout Farm in Natick has opened The Greenhouse, its new covered but open-air dining venue, and we were there on opening weekend to check out the generously sized space and the farm’s new menu. What we found was an enormous area that easily absorbed 37 generously spaced picnic tables, dozens of heat lamps, plenty of Christmas trees decked out in pretty white lights, and a festive-minded crowd out for a good time.
Beer and hard cider are on tap, of course, and the menu is devised to harmonize with Lookout’s farm-crafted IPAs, ales, and more. The Winter Wonder, a gingerbread hard cider, has proven to be a popular seasonal specialty, but we stuck to our favorite standby—an unfiltered golden ale with Belgian yeast and white wheat.
For dinner, the rock shrimp toast on roasted garlic bread packed a slight kick with its “dynamite sauce.” The small plate order was generously sized enough for dinner. I added the baby kale salad with Caesar vinaigrette, garlic bread croutons, and parmesan to my order to round out the meal. The kale was beautifully fresh, and the perky vinaigrette was served on the side, so no worries about too generous a hand in the kitchen with the dressing. The parmesan lacked flavor, but the garlic bread croutons made up for that.
The macaroni and cheese made with Vermont cheddar and fried onion bread crumbs was a big hit with our party. The generous portion and the creaminess of the cheese made this a welcome serving of wintertime comfort food. Chicken schnitzel with mashed potatoes was also eagerly devoured. However, the side of pickled red cabbage went untouched by the diner. Oh well, fermented brassicas aren’t for everyone.
With the greenhouse’s high ceiling, and the distance between diners, the experience felt safe, much like the 180-acre farm’s all-outdoor summer dining in the fields. And maybe it was the second golden ale talking, but I was feeling a kinship with our brethren in Montreal, or maybe Quebec. I, too, can be the kind of person who doesn’t let little things like snow and the cold drive her into a state of months-long hibernation.
The experience felt maybe a little Canadian, with a dash of German beer hall spirit thrown in, along with a little bit of European sophistication. Lookout has pivoted yet again to endure times that try the souls of the hardiest New England farmers/restauranteurs. Let’s hope area diners don’t leave them out in the cold.